Speeding up search: Google Instant

Towards the end of last week I learned about the launch of Google Instant, which aims to speed up the search process by providing suggested search terms as soon as the user starts typing in a search query. For instance, I started typing in “br” and the search bar started showing 4 results varying from “british airways” to “britains got talent”.

With this new, dynamic way of generating results, Google claim that typical researchers will save 2 to 5 seconds on every search query. With Instant, Google clearly tries to differentiate itself from competitive search engines such as Bing and Yahoo! who offer ‘search before you type’ functionality. The main things I learned with regard to Google Instant:

  1. Dynamic results – Relevant search results are generated whilst the user is typing in a query.
  2. Predictions – Google Instant predicts the rest of a search query even before the user has finished typing.
  3. Scroll through predictions – The user can scroll through the predictions (see learning point 2.) and see the results for each prediction when scrolling down.
  4. It’s aggressive! – I can imagine that Google Instant might not be for everyone, especially if you rather not have suggestions presented to you that are completely irrelevant to what you’re looking for!

What does Google Instant add to the existing search engines out there? The main value added in the speed with which search results are generated and the ability to modify search results. I guess Google Instant will be particularly appealing to people who search very frequently e.g. researchers. For Google it will be another product that can help to differentiate itself from its competitors.

Main learning point: a distinction can be made between “searching before you type” versus “searching as you type”. This ability to generate instant, dynamic results will help to speed up and simplify searches.

Related links for further learning:

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/search-now-faster-than-speed-of-type.html

http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=187309

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